The Israeli Peace Initiative

For those who haven’t seen it, I paste below the text of the “Israeli Peace Initiative.” It may not satisfy everyone, but it’s an eminently practical document. It’s well worth consideration as a pragmatic way to move forward. If something like this were put forth years ago, it would have been a monumental breakthrough. Today, it may well be too little too late. Still, if there is to be a negotiated resolution to this conflict, the IPI and API are the path toward it. It seems beyond belief that the Netanyahu government will support it, and much more likely that it will ignore it, just as the Sharon, Olmert and Bibi governments have done with the Arab Peace Initiative (API). It may be, however, the prime tool to push with Obama, and is certainly the kind of thing the status quo devotees, led by AIPAC will attack in any way they can.
The drafters of the plan include includes ex-army chief Amnon Lipkin-Shahak, former Mossad head Danny Yatom and Shin Bet directors Yaakov Perry and Ami Ayalon, as well as ex-general and Labor Party chief Amram Mitzna. That should lend it some credibility, though arch enemies of peace have already dismissed these names.
In any case, it is worth pursuing. 
The Israeli Peace Initiative (IPI) – in response to the Arab Peace Initiative (API)
Proposal – March 31, 2011
The State of Israel,
• Reaffirming that Israel’s strategic objective is to reach a historic compromise and permanent status
agreements that shall determine the finality of all claims and the end of the Israeli Arab conflict, in order
to achieve permanent and lasting peace, lasting and guaranteed security, regional economic prosperity and
normal ties with all Arab and Islamic states,
• Recognizing the suffering of the Palestinian refugees since the 1948 war as well as of the Jewish refugees
from the Arab countries, and realizing the need to resolve the Palestinian refugees problem through realistic
and mutually agreed-upon solutions,
• Realizing that wide-scale multilateral economic cooperation is essential in order to ensure the prosperity of
the Middle East, its environmental sustainability and the future of its peoples,
• Recognizing the Arab Peace Initiative of March 2002 (API) as a historic effort made by the Arab states to
reach a breakthrough and achieve progress on a regional basis, and sharing the API statement “that a
military solution to the conflict will not achieve peace or provide security for the parties,”
Therefore Israel accepts the API as a framework for regional peace negotiations and presents the IPI as an
integrated response to the API, and as a vision of the regional final-status agreements to be negotiated and
signed between the Arab states, the Palestinians and Israel, based on the following proposed principles:
1) CONFLICT RESOLUTION PRINCIPLES
The key principle of all regional peace agreements shall be Israeli withdrawals, guaranteed security, normal
relations and end of all conflicts, while recognizing the security needs of all parties, the water resources
challenges, the demographic realities on the ground, and the interests and needs of the followers of the three
monotheistic faiths; Furthermore, the Israeli Palestinian conflict shall be resolved on the principle of two
sates for two nations: Palestine as a nation state for the Palestinians and Israel as a nation state for the Jews
(in which the Arab minority will have equal and full civil rights as articulated in Israel’s Declaration of
Independence). On this basis, the following parameters are proposed:
1a) Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Resolution Parameters
1. Statehood and Security – A sovereign independent Palestinian state shall be formed in the West Bank
and Gaza Strip on territories from which Israel withdrew. The state shall be demilitarized, exercising full
authority over its internal security forces. The International community shall play an active role in
providing border security and curbing terrorist threats.
2. Borders – The borders shall be based on the June 4, 1967, lines, with agreed modifications subject to
the following principles: the creation of territorial contiguity between the Palestinian territories; land
swaps (not to exceed 7% of the West Bank) based on a 1:1 ratio, including the provision of a safe
corridor between the West Bank and Gaza, under de facto Palestinian control.
3. Jerusalem – The greater Jerusalem area shall include the two capitals of the two states. The line shall be
drawn so that: Jewish neighborhoods shall be under Israeli sovereignty; the Arab neighborhoods shall be
under Palestinian sovereignty; special arrangements shall be implemented in the Old City, ensuring that
the Jewish Quarter and the Western Wall shall be under Israeli sovereignty; the Temple Mount shall
remain under a special no-sovereignty regime (“God Sovereignty”), with special agreed-upon
arrangements, ensuring that Islamic holy places shall be administered by the Moslem Waqf, and Jewish
holy sites and interests shall be administered by Israel. The implementation of these arrangements will
be supervised by an Israeli-International committee .
4. Refugees – The solutions for the Palestinian refugees shall be agreed upon between Israel, the
Palestinians and all regional parties in accordance with the following principles: Financial compensation
shall be offered to the refugees and the host countries by the international community and Israel; the
Palestinian refugees wishing to return (as mentioned in UNGAR 194) may do so only to the Palestinian
state, with mutually agreed-upon symbolic exceptions who will be allowed to return to Israel.March 31, 2011 IPI Proposal 2
1b) Israeli-Syrian Conflict Resolution Parameters
1. Borders – Israel shall withdraw from the Golan to a border-line to be designed based on the June 4,
1967 status, with agreed minor modifications and land swaps based on a 1:1 ratio, reflecting the 1923
international border. The agreement shall be mutually implemented in stages, based on the Sinai model,
over a period not to exceed 5 years.
2. Security Arrangements –A comprehensive security package shall be mutually agreed, defining, inter
alia, the scope of demilitarized zones on both sides of the border and the deployment of peace keeping
international forces.
1c) Israeli-Lebanese Conflict Resolution Parameters
1. Borders – Israel and Lebanon shall establish permanent peace based on UNSCR 1701, subject to which
Israel concluded its withdrawal to the international border.
2. Lebanese Sovereignty – In addition to the full implementation of UNSCR 1701, Lebanon shall exercise
full sovereignty over its territory through the Lebanese army.
1d) State of Peace
In each of the Israeli-Palestinian, Israeli-Syrian and the Israeli-Lebanese peace agreements the respective
parties agree to apply between them the provisions of the Charter of the United Nations and the principles of
international law governing relations among states in time of peace; to settle all disputes between them by
peaceful means; to develop good neighborly relations of co-operation between them to ensure lasting
security; to refrain from the threat or use of force against each other and from forming any coalition,
organization or alliance with a third party, the objectives or activities of which include launching aggression
or hostility against the other party.
2) REGIONAL SECURITY PRINCIPLES
1. The parties will create regional security mechanisms, addressing shared threats and risks arising from
states, terrorist organizations, marine pirate groups, and guerrilla organizations. to ensure the safety and
security of the peoples of the region.
2. The parties shall build regional frameworks to jointly fight against crime and environmental threats.
3) ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT PRINCIPLES
Based on significant economic support by the international community, the parties shall implement widescale regional cooperation projects in order to ensure the stabilization, viability and prosperity of the region,
and to achieve optimal utilization of energy and water resources for the benefit of all parties. Such projects
will improve transportation infrastructure, agriculture, industry and regional tourism, thus addressing the
rising danger of unemployment in the region. In the future, the parties shall create the “Middle East
Economic Development Bloc” (inviting all Middle Eastern countries to join), aiming at reaching a special
status in the EU, the US and the International Community.
4) STEPS TOWARDS NORMAL RELATIONS PRINCIPLES
Israel, the Arab States and the Islamic States commit to implement gradual steps towards establishing normal
relations between them, in the spirit of the Arab Peace Initiative, which shall commence upon the launching
of peace negotiations and shall be gradually upgraded to full normal relations (including diplomatic relations,
open borders and economic ties) upon the signing of the permanent status agreements and throughout their
implementation

12 thoughts on “The Israeli Peace Initiative

  1. I’d like to hear from I/P-knowledgeable folks, whether the land on which the Gaza-WB road would be located is land of similar “value” and equal area (for the 1:1 rule to consider) to the land on which the Israeli “neighborhoods” of Jerusalem now stand.

    I myself would reject the “1:1” because Palestinians already accepted the 78:22 ratio to land generally; “4:1” would seem a better rule, and the lands exchanged should be of equal value (desert being of different “value”, in my view, from arable land, etc.) Furthermore, if it should turn out that the Gaza-WB road would occupy a lot of land, as it might if it is wide enough to allow for road-repair, traffic breakdowns, water-gas-oil-electric-communications links, etc., that land should be a gift from Israel to Palestine in partial reparation for 60 years of dispossessions. Outside the “4:1” or “1:1” trade.

    Also, the idea of preserving ANY of the settlements seems to me a horrible idea because it constitutes a post-hoc “legalization” of Israeli lawbreaking. Better that all settlers be removed and the wall and settlement-buildings all be demolished BEFORE peace negotiations (or at least, that such removals and demolitions be well begun before peace negotiations terminate).

    But perhaps I’m just a stick-in-the-mud who doesn’t recognize adequate progress when it is staring me in the face. Fortunately for Palestinians and Israelis, I will not be one of the negotiators!

    • Having spoken with numerous people on all sides who have been involved in these negotiations (Israelis, Palestinians, Americans, and both negotiators and activists), both now and in the past, the safe passage road would represent a very small amount of the land swapped. Most plans also moot the question of utilities as both WB and Gaza would continue to get them from where they do now (mostly Israel, partially Egypt for Gaza, with some help from Jordan in the WB, but not significant) until and unless Palestine would develop its own utilities, which would not be a top priority. So the safe passage road would be a small part of this. The broader principle of 1:1 has varied depending on which deal it is. This one does not mention “quality as well as quantity,” which, based on history and the sources I have, probably means they have willfully left this point open, which, in turn, given power realities, probably means in the end that land the Palestinians get won’t be as good as what Israel is getting in the settlements it would keep. But this group has also chosen both not to make that point clear but also not to build in a guarantee that Israel will keep the so-called “major settlement blocs,” most importantly Ariel and Ma’ale Adumim. So that part is an improvement, even while the lack of mention of quality of land is s step back from a few other ideas, though not most of them.

  2. The initiative is exceedingly practical and mirrors in many ways the Geneva proposal.

    @Mitchell – it seems to me the Golan piece of the equation actually may be the most difficult one to work out, given complications with Syria and emotional connections to the area.

    Any idea how this piece of the equation stands in terms of its chances?

  3. David,
    I doubt the Syrian angle would prove difficult relative to the Palestinian one at all. There would be problems, of course, as there always are. But, much like the Palestinian issue, the resolution has been at hand for quite some time. A major difference between the two is that the basic understanding in the international community of what the Palestinian resolution would look like has always been resisted by both Israelis and Palestinians. On the Syrian side, while both sides have, at different times, pulled away from a deal, the basic parameters are essentially acceptable to Syria, not so much to Israel. This proposal seems to model something Syria can accept, as it suggests that Israel would fully withdraw from the Golan Heights, with some minor modifications and a likely arrangement of some sort of de-militarized zone with international monitoring, something Hafez Assad indicated he was willing to accept, and his son is just as likely to.

    The trouble is more on the Israeli side, where the pre-1967 specter of Syria using the Heights to shell kibbutzim in northern Israel. While this is a problem that 21st century military technology can deal with (especially given Israel’s massive air and monitoring superiority), the specter remains, and it is a hard sell in Israel. That’s why it’s significant that this is in an Israeli proposal.

    So, problems, yes. The biggest would be selling the Syrian part to the Israeli public. But the issues regarding Israel and the Palestinians are much more significant. Frankly, if there is any political will, the Syrian issue can be brought to a close. It will require much more such will to settle the issues of the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem.

  4. @Mitchell — Thanks for responding. I agree with you regarding the difficulty of resolution on many I/P issues in contrast to plans for a resolution with Syria.

    I should have been clearer; I was referring to the current upheaval in Syria and how political dynamics there might influence any possible agreements with Israel. I was just curious whether you thought the current, popular resistance to Assad may end up having significant impacts on the proposed peace initiative.

    Thanks again.

  5. Hi, David,
    Regarding the current Syrian unrest, there are a few things worth looking at. One is that it is highly unlikely, as things stand now, that Assad will be out of office. There are already some neo-conservative rumblings which suggest that those wise folks would like to see the US act to bring about regime change there (I can think of few things more foolish, but the people who brought us the Iraq War are not noted for their delicate thought), but at this stage, I don’t see it happening.

    While such unrest continues, of course Syrian attention will be elsewhere, but the Initiative is not going to be implemented tomorrow, so I think we can proceed analytically on the basis of Syrian and Israeli political conditions in more or less normal times.

    Assad is interested in one thing and that’s the Golan Heights. The IPI offers the POTENTIAL to get him to cut a deal, but it leaves a lot of room for maneuver on the Israeli side, which could change things. But if Assad can get the Golan back, he will do it with enough provisos to guarantee that northern Israel is no less secure than it is today and would be more so since Syria would then end its state of war with Israel.

    The increasing weight that must finally be given in Syria as well as all across the Arab world to popular sentiment means that Assad has to be much more careful not to cut a deal that essentially means Syria is abandoning the Palestinians. since the IPI integrates regional peace with ending the occupation, that won’t be a concern.

    In Syria, as elsewhere, there is no way to know for certain what changes might come if the entrenched regime is ousted, though in Syria that possibility remains extremely remote. But if an agreement can be reached that the Palestinians accept, there are few political groupings in Arab states that will not then agree to pretty much what the Arab Peace Initiative, as well as this one, call on them to do, which is normalize relations with Israel.

    So, my answer really remains the same one I gave before, and i don’t really see the current turmoil changing things in that regard, though until things calm down, we can probably expect that Assad, like other Arab leaders, are not going to put this issue front and center, but only deal with matters regarding Israel as they arise.

  6. Pingback: The Pessimism Process | Souciant

  7. Hi Mitch,

    I’m wondering if you are familiar with Jeff Halper’s proposal for resolving the conflict and, if so, what you think of it — both from a policy perspective and from the perspective of realpolitik. As far as I know he first floated it around 2005, in several venues, including in an article in Tikkun magazine (Jan/Feb 05) — available here:

    http://www.tikkun.org/article.php/Halper-israel-in-a-middle-east-union

    It obviously hasn’t gained any significant traction, but it seems to me an unusually creative, humane and thoughtful approach. One aspect of it that I particularly like is that it allows for return of 1948 Palestinian refugees (or their descendants) to lands on the “Israel side” of the Green Line without jeopardizing a Jewish voting majority in Israel. It also allows Jews to live in territories that would be controlled by a future Palestinian state. I won’t quote it at length here but may try to post a more lengthy quote in another comment for easier reference.

    I’m curious if you have thoughts, comments, critiques, etc.

  8. Here’s the lengthier quote from Halper. There’s a good deal more in the article but this is most of the section that deals with refugee and settlement issues.

    Halper’s outline envisions a three-state confederation of Israel, Jordan and the new Palestinian state. That confederation **could** eventually expand into a broader Middle East Union. With that background….

    Quote.

    The key element of this approach is the ability of all members of the confederation to live and work anywhere within the confederation’s boundaries. That breaks the Palestinians out of their prison. Rather than burdening the small emergent state with responsibilities it cannot possibly fulfill, the confederational approach distributes that burden across the entire region. It also addresses the core of the refugee issue, which is individual choice. Palestinians residing within the confederation would have the choice of becoming citizens of the Palestinian state, retaining citizenship in their current countries of residence, or leaving the region entirely for a new life abroad. They could choose to return “home” to what is today Israel, but they would do so as Palestinian citizens or citizens of another member state. Israel would be under no obligation to grant them citizenship, just as Israelis living in Palestine (Jews who choose to remain in Ma’aleh Adumim or Hebron, for example, former “settlers”) would retain Israeli citizenship. This addresses Israeli concerns about the integrity of their state.

    “In such a confederation, even a major influx of Palestinian refugees into Israel would pose no problem. It is not the presence of the refugees themselves that is threatening to Israel. After all, 300,000 foreign workers and an even greater number of Russian Christians reside in Israel today. The threat to Israeli sovereignty comes from the possibility of refugees claiming Israeli citizenship. By disconnecting the Right of Return from citizenship, the refugees would realize their political identity through citizenship in a Palestinian state while posing no challenge to Israeli sovereignty, thus enjoying substantive individual justice by living in any part of Palestine/Israel or the wider region they choose. And since a confederational solution does not require that the settlements be dismantled—although they will be integrated—it is not dependent upon “ending the Occupation,” the main obstacle to the two-state solution. It will simply neutralize it, rendering all the walls, checkpoints, bypass roads, and segregated cities irrelevant.

    End quote.

    Again, interested in thoughts, comments, critiques.

  9. That’s strange. I posted twice but only my second one showed up. Apologies if I wind up double-posting, but here is the comment I intended to post the **first** time, which really belongs before my second comment (above).

    Hi Mitch,

    I’m wondering if you are familiar with Jeff Halper’s proposal for resolving the conflict and, if so, what you think of it — both from a policy perspective and from the perspective of realpolitik. As far as I know he first floated it around 2005, in several venues, including in an article in Tikkun magazine (Jan/Feb 05) — available here:

    http://www.tikkun.org/article.php/Halper-israel-in-a-middle-east-union

    It obviously hasn’t gained any significant traction, but it seems to me an unusually creative, humane and thoughtful approach. One aspect of it that I particularly like is that it allows for return of 1948 Palestinian refugees (or their descendants) to lands on the “Israel side” of the Green Line without jeopardizing a Jewish voting majority in Israel. It also allows Jews to live in territories that would be controlled by a future Palestinian state. I won’t quote it at length here but may try to post a more lengthy quote in another comment for easier reference.

    I’m curious if you have thoughts, comments, critiques, etc.

  10. OK, posting this a third time. I’m thinking your comment system does not allow the posting of urls. It should be read as an introduction to the quote above. Modifying the url to see if the spam-catcher doesn’t choke this time.

    Hi Mitch,

    I’m wondering if you are familiar with Jeff Halper’s proposal for resolving the conflict and, if so, what you think of it — both from a policy perspective and from the perspective of realpolitik. As far as I know he first floated it around 2005, in several venues, including in an article in Tikkun magazine (Jan/Feb 05) — available here:

    www dot tikkun dot org slash article dot php slash Halper-israel-in-a-middle-east-union

    It obviously hasn’t gained any significant traction, but it seems to me an unusually creative, humane and thoughtful approach. One aspect of it that I particularly like is that it allows for return of 1948 Palestinian refugees (or their descendants) to lands on the “Israel side” of the Green Line without jeopardizing a Jewish voting majority in Israel. It also allows Jews to live in territories that would be controlled by a future Palestinian state. I won’t quote it at length here but may try to post a more lengthy quote in another comment for easier reference.

    I’m curious if you have thoughts, comments, critiques, etc.

    • Dear Jim,
      Sorry for the delay in responding. I’ve known Jeff Halper for over a decade, and consider him a smart and innovative thinker. That said, politically, we don’t always agree.

      Jeff has updated his thinking considerably since that Tikkun article was written, as is sensible since six years later, conditions are quite different. Bottom line, though…could Jeff’s idea work? It’s possible. And the same can be said for many other plans, including the standard political ones (Geneva Initiative, Clinton Parameters, Beilin-Abbed Rabbo and Beilin-Abu Mazen plans, the Arab Peace Initiative, the Israeli Peace initiative) as well as more radical ones, such as Ali Abunimah’s one-state vision. If there is sufficient political will on all sides, any of these plans could work.

      Of course, some plans, like Ali’s, would require considerably more political will than others simply because they are, at this time, much farther outside of the international consensus. Jeff’s plan is similarly situated.

      The fact is that Israel is the one holding most of the cards, and the racism in Israel is growing dramatically. It’s not just about a Jewish voting majority anymore; an increasing number of Israelis don’t want to live, work, go to school or generally even see Arabs. As long as that trend continues, it’s unlikely that any agreement will be reached. And, as it stands now, any plan that allows Palestinians back behind the Green Line, however well it protects a Jewish voting majority in Israel, is not going to be acceptable to the overwhelming majority of Israelis, and as long as the balance of power dictates that Palestinians have to live with Israeli decisions, but not the reverse, that nixes any deal like this one.

      There are other problems with Jeff’s plan that i can see. Economics would be a major problem and bone of contention, as Israelis would feel they were sharing a much stronger economy with non-citizens, among other issues. But problems will arise in any plan, and working them out can only happen by actually beginning to institute them. Having a good enough peace plan is not the issue, and hasn’t been for quite some time. The problem is the political will in Israel, the US, and, yes, to some extent also in the PLO and even Hamas (neither of whom is particularly interested in seeing the sort of Palestinian liberation and democracy that most Palestinians seem to be trying to work toward) to make it happen.

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